Tuesday 27 September 2016

TV3's Red Rock returns to British viewers as BBC buys new series

Published 04/09/2016 | 02:30

Cathy Belton in ‘Red Rock’. The gritty crime drama is TV3’s most internationally successful series
Cathy Belton in ‘Red Rock’. The gritty crime drama is TV3’s most internationally successful series

TV3 has closed a deal with the BBC to run a second series of its popular Red Rock drama, as the multiple award-winning soap concluded its first run on the BBC.

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Red Rock debuted on BBC One last July to an audience of more than 1 million viewers.

The gritty crime drama, set in a fictional seaside town near Dublin, will return to the BBC following an undisclosed six-figure deal, which was closed last Friday.

The BBC bought the show's first season of 80 half-hour episodes, which was also sold to US on-demand platform Amazon Prime.

It has now acquired 40 one-hour episodes which will run concurrently on TV3.

Pat Kiely, managing director of TV3, which turns 18 next month, said the renewed deal with the BBC is part of its pursuit of a "smart growth" strategy, including the creation of original content that can be sold and syndicated to overseas broadcasters.

The strategy will see the broadcaster increase both revenue and profitability as it invests in its primetime output and "advanced advertising".

Kiely, who has been a senior executive at TV3 since it launched in 1998, said the station is on a much more solid corporate structure since it was acquired by the veteran US cable mogul John Malone's Liberty Global.

The company was bought by Virgin Media's parent group, Liberty Global, in July 2015 in a deal worth up to €87m.

Kiely said his operational budget, boosted by the capital investment from Virgin Media, will generate significant returns.

"It's all about a return on investment, whoever the owner is," said Kiely, who has secured veteran broadcaster Pat Kenny for a primetime current affairs programme co-hosted with Colette Fitzpatrick. Economist David McWilliams will also return to the broadcaster with Agenda, a dedicated business programme.

TV3, which bought the rights to the Rugby World Cup in 2015, will shortly rebrand its ad/sales division as Virgin Media solutions, enhancing its business-to-business offerings and recalibrating its advertising to more targeted and discrete audiences across all its platforms.

"Imagine if TV achieves what print media has had to achieve, with feet in both [traditional and digital] camps," said Kiely.

Liberty's investment follows a turbulent number of years for TV3, which was put up for sale by British private equity group Doughty Hanson, which paid €265m for the business in 2006.

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